Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said Senate Intelligence Chairwomen Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinA guide to the committees: Senate Dem: Trump's China trademark looks like a quid pro quo Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick MORE’s (D-Calif.) outrage over the CIA’s alleged search of Senate computers was "concerning," given that she has defended a separate surveillance program on many Americans in the past.
She also alleged that the search might have violated the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable government searches. The CIA has denied the charge.
Snowden, whose leaks exposed a NSA surveillance program that collects metadata on millions of Americans, did not condone the CIA’s actions. But he said it is concerning that Feinstein was only expressing outrage now.
"It's clear the CIA was trying to play 'keep away' with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that's a serious constitutional concern,” said Snowden in a statement to NBC News.
He referenced German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who expressed outrage last October following reports that the NSA had monitored some of her communications.
“But it's equally if not more concerning that we're seeing another 'Merkel Effect,' where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them," Snowden said.
Feinstein, a supporter of the NSA program, has said she believes it is constitutional and necessary to protect the country from attack. However, she has said it could benefit from more privacy and transparency protections.
The NSA has not ruled out the possibility that the bulk collection program has also swept up lawmakers' phone records. It has said it cannot legally cull its database to check because it can only access records that are reasonably suspected to be linked to a foreign terrorist group.